* Prices may differ from that shown
We inherited this cordless vacuum when we bought our Land Rover, after driving home Mark found it in a storage compartment in the boot - we've never bothered with a car vacuum before as Mark gets our cars valeted cheaply through his business account, but then we've never had a 4x4 before. They pick up grime, bits and crap all the time, it's almost like they *know* they are built to get dirty and even though this one is primarily for ferrying the kids about it still has the brain of an off-roader. Since we bought it in September I've used this excellent Black & Decker vacuum at least every other day, either to clean the car up a bit or just a quick blast on the pile of Quavers crumbs that my thirteen month old son invariably leaves behind.
It charges via a wall mounted cradle, the average charging time is roughly five hours and after that you'll get 8 minutes of continuous use. 8 minutes isn't all that long and I was surprised to only get such a short time from such a long charge - I can just about get round our car in that time but I think that's only because we clean it so regularly anyway that it only needs a 'going over' once we start noticing the bits starting to appear on the carpet. I've noticed that if you keep switching the vacuum on and off you'll lose time too, like the very effort of turning off then on again is draining the battery - which it probably is but shouldn't do to the extent of losing valuable cleaning minutes!
Suction is good, not perfect but very good actually considering how small this appliance is. The voltage is 2.4 volts and the power listed on the box is 4.5 air watts, I'm not 'up' on vacuum wattages but am presuming that either of these figures will tell the more seasoned vacuum users more about the suction abilities of this particular handheld. From a more housewifey point of view, it's never actually refused to suck anything up (obviously I avoid large stones and Lego bricks that make their way into the car) but will struggle on exactly the things you'd expect it to struggle with. A lollipop stick defeated it yesterday, only a light paper-wrapped one but something about either the size or shape meant the suction couldn't quite get hold of it well enough to drag it into the body of the vacuum. Dust, fine soily bits, crisp crumbs and all sorts are easily dealt with and the vacuum removes every last trace of this sort of dirt. Things I have noticed it struggles with personally are leaves (even dry crunchy ones), Smarties and cigarette ash (weirdly true, I accidentally upended the ashtray in Mark's van last week and when I tried using this vacuum to clean it up the suction just kind of blew the grubby ash around the floor).
The vacuum is nicely shaped to fit well in my hand, when Mark uses it he complains that the On/Off button is in a funny place on the vacuum and he keeps accidentally switching it off as he's pressing to get deeply into the pile of the carpet. This has never been an issue for me so I wonder if it's because his hands are bigger than mine or whether he simply holds it all cack-handed as I personally find it infinitely more comfortable than an older Dirt Devils handheld vacuum (although that one was corded so had its own comfort problems).
It's very light to hold too, even after a full (ahem) eight minutes of vacuuming it doesn't make my arm ache and as you're only hoovering up very small particles even when the vacuum is full it doesn't really feel much heavier than when empty. You'll know when it needs emptying by the way as the suction will practically die, as soon as it's been emptied though it'll be back to its usual self again.
Emptying the vacuum is very easy; there are no fiddly buttons or switches to mess with, you simply twist the two parts of the vacuum apart and empty the crap out before twisting it back together again. Easy peasy. The vacuum will hold 286ml of assorted dust and rubbish, this isn't much and I find I have to empty it after every couple of uses - the ease of emptying means this isn't a problem but if you're used to a larger capacity handheld vacuum you might find this a bit restrictive.
So, how well does it perform? The short answer is surprisingly well. The nozzle is shaped at a nice angle for cleaning the footwells in the car, it's slightly too wide to get into all the nooks and crannies (around the gearstick for example) but overall I'm finding it a pretty damned effective way of keeping the car clean. Our vacuum doesn't look as pristine as the one in the piccie, obviously I don't know how old it is but it looks decidedly grubby in comparison to a brand new one! This I take as a good sign as even though I've only used it regularly myself for four months I can see that it has been used well for a long time before this - and considering the fact that this vacuum can be purchased for as little as £23 I think that's brilliant value.